Latino Advocates Take Center Stage at the National Conference for Media Reform

Guest Blogger: Joe Torres


Many of our nation’s leading Latino activists, journalists, artists and media policy advocates will play a key role in the National Conference for Media Reform in Denver on April 5–7.

The conference will feature several panels that examine news coverage of the Latino community. Aura Bogado of the Nation will moderate a panel exploring how reporting has influenced the immigration debate. Panelists include Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, Tania Soto Valenzuela of the Colorado Progressive Coalition and Tania A. Unzueta of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

National Hispanic Media Coalition President Alex Nogales will moderate a session on the impact of hate speech on Latinos; former Colorado State Senator Polly Baca will be among the panelists. A screening of the documentary Latinos Beyond Reel, which skewers media stereotypes, will precede this conversation.

Novelist and journalist Achy Obejas will join media critic Eric Deggans and Publisher Rinku Sen in a session considering whether the media’s reporting on race has improved since our country elected its first black president.

And Tania A. Unzueta, Lorena Garcia of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights and interdisciplinary artist and organizer Favianna Rodriguez will discuss what’s missing in the media’s coverage of the LGBTQ community.

Several conference sessions will consider the fallout from government policies that have concentrated control of our media and telecom systems into the hands of a few corporations. Activists and policy experts will discuss the importance of advocating for policies that would democratize our nation’s media.

Jessica Gonzalez of the National Hispanic Media Coalition will discuss the domestic fight to protect our Internet freedom while Guatemalan human rights lawyer Renata Avila Pinto will delve into the global effort to protect Internet rights.

Ana M. Montes of The Utility Reform Network will examine how communities can build their own broadband networks while Edyael Casaperalta of the Center for Rural Strategies will discuss the importance of ensuring broadband access in rural communities. Meanwhile, Rusita Avila of the Media Literacy Project and Steven Renderos of the Center for Media Justice will discuss the campaign to end predatory prison phone rates.

Advocating for policy changes that benefit the Latino community — and the broader public interest community — can be challenging when you’re going up against big money and big media. Elena Nunez of Colorado Common Cause will tackle ways to educate voters in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Meanwhile, Public Knowledge’s Clarissa Ramon will help facilitate a workshop designed to teach activists how to lobby for positive reforms.

While political campaigns have spent a record amount on political ads, fewer journalists are covering local communities. How can communities fill that void? Florence Hernandez-Ramos of the Latino Public Radio Consortium, Roberta M. Rael of Generation Justice and Silvia Rivera of will discuss how organizations are working to ensure communities receive the news and information they need.

Artists and cultural organizers have long played an essential role in social movements. The Center for Media Justice’s amalia deloney will moderate a discussion on how artists can advocate for social change. Interdisciplinary artist Favianna Rodriguez will be among the panelists.

Meanwhile, Andrea Quijada of the Media Literacy Project will lead a session, along with her MLP colleague Jessica Collins and Denecia Cadena of Young Women United, on how to shift culture to build social movements and Lorena Garcia of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights will discuss ways marginalized communities are using technology to empower themselves and expand their audiences

Meanwhile, I will take part in a discussion of the dismal levels of female and minority media ownership. I will also join Juan González in a conversation about the critical role people of color have played in the media reform movement.

Click here to learn more about the conference and to register. Hope to see everyone in Denver!

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